November 23, 2005

News aggregators are driving me crazy

Posted in Software at 9:30 pm by mj

Whatever I do, I can’t seem to keep using a news aggregator for any length of time. I just find them all totally uncomfortable.

My favorites at this point are Blog Bridge and RSS Bandit. I love the promise of the former, in terms of its collaborative filtering potential, but I find its UI clunky (and Java Web Start is immature–I always have issues on Linux). RSS Bandit is a bit better UI-wise, but it’s a C# application, which pretty much eliminates it from the running from the start. The web-based aggregators are even worse from my perspective. I was expecting more from Google Reader–true, it does “feel” a little better, but I still find it difficult to use.

Obviously I am deficient in some capacity, because most people I know are merrily using one or another aggregator religiously, while I’m over here manually checking my sources through bookmarks whenever I get a hankering for information. What logical, time-pressed, sane person would do that? Right.

Writing a basic news aggregator isn’t hard. I’m not talking about the really cool features here. Sure, it’s great to have some analysis going on in the background to make finding feeds/articles easier. If you know me, I’m a huge advocate for recommendations and “implicit search”. But that’s not what I find lacking.

For me, it goes just to the feel of the UI. How groups, feeds, articles are presented and navigated. The responsiveness of the UI. The sense of context.

And the worst thing is: I can’t even put my finger on a set of features/UI elements that would make me comfortable. So I’m not exactly in a position to criticize, or produce something better.



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